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Dia de los Muertos

Today is Dia de los Muertos. A few years ago, you only really knew about the holiday if you grew up near the border or in a Mexican-American family. I remember being in Hawaii, telling some of my friends I was celebrating by climbing Stairway to Heaven, and the majority of them had no idea what I was talking about. Now you see sugar skulls everywhere. On everything. It makes me sad, in a way, that it has become so commercialized. I think people get sad when something they love becomes too mainstream because it makes it seem like it makes it worth less- it becomes more of a fashion piece than something meaningful. But I think there is always opportunity in something like this- to teach people the meaning behind the attractive artwork that inspired the latest craze. So today, like every November 2 since I started this blog, I will write about Dia de los Muertos, this time in a different way. I will share a very personal story I’ve never told here before. 
Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life… and death, and how you can’t have one without the other. Death isn’t something to be feared- it’s to be seen as a beautiful stage of life. And on Dia de los Muertos, we honor those who have died before us.

In Catholic elementary school we always went to mass that day, and I remember even as a young child sitting in the pews wondering whether those who have passed before us were really among us. Today, I’m not really a religious person. I wish I could be. But I think I’ll always have too many questions. Doubts. I’ll always identify with the Catholic religion, but I think I’ll always be more of a “spiritual” person rather than a religious one. As someone chillin in this sort of agnostic zone, I’m always asking for proof that something’s out there. When I was 14 I got something. And then again about 6 months ago. The first time it happened I was certain there had to be some sort of logical explanation. I didn’t tell many people it happened, because I never thought they would believe me. After all, if they told me a story like mine I don’t think I’d really believe them either. But then it happened again, over ten years later.

The first time it happened my stepmother had just passed away from breast cancer. It was a very difficult time for my family, as you can imagine. It also happened to be around my birthday, and my best friend Rikki stayed over at my house for a night or two. One night we were sound asleep when my phone rang, waking both of us up. The caller ID showed my stepmother’s number. I answered it and it said, as if I had phoned her, “You have reached the voicemail box of….” Odd. I hung up and turned to Rikki to see if she had heard. Yup. Our eyes were both wide. It rang again, this time just static. I walked out of my bedroom to the bar area next to the living room and just like I had thought, my stepmom’s phone was sitting there, powered off. It didn’t happen again. Nothing like that ever happened to me again. So I figured there had to be an explanation. I really only told people if they had shared a similar story with me first.

Then, about six months ago (when I was still pregnant) my husband and I were getting ready for bed. He was in the bathroom brushing his teeth, and I was sitting on our bed playing on my phone. I heard his phone buzzing nearby, but I ignored it. I figured he would have heard it vibrating as well and if he wanted to answer it he would answer it. He came back into the room, picked up his phone and his face looked confused. “What?” I asked. He showed me the phone. I read the name of one of our mutual friends who had passed away in a motorcycle accident about eight months before. How could my husband have a missed call from him? He tried to call the number back, thinking maybe somebody had inherited his phone number and accidentally dialed him, but the automated operator said the phone number was no longer in service. What’s even stranger is that my husband was thinking of buying a motorcycle at the time. It was an intense experience, and to top it off, I couldn’t believe it was the second time something like that had happened to me. I don’t even know of anyone it has happened once to.

When I think about what happened all I have are questions (as usual). “Was it just some random mistake that can be attributed to wonky cell signals? Then why doesn’t that happen more often? If one of them really did call, why didn’t they say anything? Could they? No. It has to be something wrong with a phone line or computer. But…”

The only thing I know for sure is that these two incidents, or hearing about stuff like this from people I know and trust, keep my hope alive. I may not know what the meaning of life is or what exactly happens when we die, but I know there is something out there. And maybe our loved ones really can hear us.

So on Dia de los Muertos, I’d like to take a moment to say hello to those I love who have passed away. Wherever they are, I hope they know I think of them often. <3

You can read about some f my ancestors here.
If you’re interested in seeing how Dia de los Muertos is celebrated back home, click here.
And thank you, Shelly, for inspiring me to share my story!